Answering Your Questions About Teeth Straightening Options for Adults

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While people often have their teeth straightened while they're still teenagers, many adults today are also investigating options for dental straightening procedures to help improve their smile and even the health of their teeth. If you're an adult and are considering a teeth straightening procedure for yourself, note a few questions you might have about your options so you know what to discuss with your dentist or orthodontist.

What's the difference between braces and a tray?

A tray refers to a piece of plastic that is shaped and molded to fit your teeth to gently nudge them into place over time. You receive a new tray every few weeks as your teeth move into position. While a tray can help to improve the overall appearance of your teeth, note that it won't change the structure of your jawbone and may be limited as to the amount of straightening it can offer.

Braces, on the other hand, can move severely crooked teeth into position and also help to address issues with the shape of the jawbone itself. Depending on why your teeth are crooked and how severely misaligned they are, you may need to have braces to correct the problem, but only your dentist or orthodontist can note which option is best for you.

Do short-term teeth alignment procedures work?

You may see some procedures that advertise teeth alignment in a matter of a few short months; again, only an orthodontist can tell you if any of these procedures would work for you, but note that many such procedures typically only straighten your front teeth. This can be sufficient if your teeth are only slightly misaligned, as this problem may not take years and years to correct. Plus, most people only see your front teeth when you smile!

What about caps, veneers or bonding?

Caps are plastic or porcelain pieces that slide over a tooth and are then cemented into place. Bonding is a type of putty that is dabbed onto a tooth and shaped, and which then hardens. Veneers are artificial fronts that are glued over the front of the tooth alone. All of these procedures can make certain teeth look more properly aligned; for example, a tooth that sits back from the rest of the teeth can be bonded, and the bonding makes that tooth look like it's in line with other teeth. However, these procedures won't correct issues with the jawbone itself, and none of them are permanent, as they can all eventually discolor, chip, crack or otherwise need replacing.